Individuals who have been hospitalized with sudden hearing loss are at increased risk of suffering strokes later in life, according to a Taiwanese study. The reason is not known.

The risk of stroke for people who have been hospitalized with sudden hearing loss is more than 1 ½ times the risk among other otherwise healthy former hospital patients, according to the study conducted by researchers in Taiwan.

The researchers investigated how many former patients with sudden sensorineural hearing loss suffered strokes within 5 years of their hospitalization. The numbers were compared to the numbers of strokes in a control group with an equal number of former appendectomy patients.

For each patient in the control group suffering a stroke, 1.64 of the former sudden hearing loss patients suffered strokes.

The Taiwanese scientists offered no explanation for the increased risk. They acknowledge that a lack of information about other stroke risk factors in the patients could have skewed the findings.

However, they urge hearing loss patients to undergo frequent and thorough check-ups immediately following their hospitalization for sudden hearing loss and in subsequent years, as well.

Tony Rudd, a medical doctor and stroke specialist, is skeptical about any correlation between sudden hearing loss and strokes.

"It’s an unusual finding, quite surprising, but not one that you hear and immediately think makes sense," he said in a comment quoted by BBC.

Sources: Stroke, 26 June 2008;

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